Ten years ago, in 2013, I went to Maranello in Italy as Ferrari’s lone media guest from the Philippines. That was a memorable trip, not just because I saw the La Ferrari for the first time but also because I had a “moment” with then Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo.
The carmaker’s alpha male at the time was fielding questions at a press conference inside a spacious auditorium. There, I was listening to boring business questions from journalists. I was growing so impatient with the queries that I actually dared to raise my hand—more like half-raise—for the last chance to quiz the Ferrari boss. And what do you know? The man himself picked me out of the big crowd (true story). At that point, I was beginning to rue my decision to ask for the microphone. Not least because the question I had thought of suddenly didn’t seem worthy of being uttered in the direction of Signore di Montezemolo.
And if you know me, you should be familiar with my aversion to asking questions at press gatherings. As far as I’m concerned, if a question is so important that I have to swallow my diffidence to ask it, then I would rather ask it in private. After all, why would I share a story angle with my colleagues?
Other motoring journalists from other countries—mostly from Europe—had already asked the popular questions at the time. Chief of which was: “Is Ferrari making an SUV?” Remember, this was 2013 we’re talking about here.
If my memory serves me right, it was from this press con where di Montezemolo said: “No SUV for Ferrari as long as I’m chairman.”
Well, a little more than a year after, in 2014, di Montezemolo resigned as chairman and president of Ferrari. Often cited as one of the reasons for his resignation was his clash with Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. There were theories. The biggest one, of course, was that top management had to clear the way for a Ferrari SUV—which wouldn’t have been possible with di Montezemolo holding the company’s reins.
Last week, 10 years after I had personally met Luca di Montezemolo, I laid my mesmerized eyes on the Ferrari Purosangue inside the temporary showroom of Velocità Motors, the new Philippine distributor that is owned by San Miguel Corporation and helmed by chairman and president Ramon S. Ang. The Purosangue, obviously, is an SUV—in spite of Ferrari’s reluctance to call it an SUV. A four-door, four-seater SUV with a 6.5-liter V12 engine, a P46-million price tag, and a two-year waiting time.
I wonder what di Montezemolo thinks about the Purosangue. Does he visit the resting place of Enzo Ferrari and rant about the Ferrari SUV? It’s not hard to imagine that, to be honest. And if you’re a hardcore Ferrari fan with the mindset of a purist, you will join him, too.
But the reality is that the Purosangue exists in the name of Ferrari’s sustainability. The wealthy alpha males can buy all the hypercars they want, but let the family-oriented Ferrari customers (or their wives?) have their ideal vehicle as well.
Oh, back to my question for Luca di Montezemolo. During the press conference, he kept comparing the La Ferrari to a beautiful woman. So, I just had to ask him: “Which specific woman would you say the La Ferrari is.”
“Monica Bellucci,” he said.
I instantly knew that this was a real man. Too bad he couldn’t be a man that would be caught dead in a Ferrari SUV.
FILL YOUR TANK: “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)